It seems that Google’s biggest problem in convincing the public to start using Google Glass won’t be issues about privacy or comfort, but making sure the users themselves don’t step out of line.
The technology giant has released its own set of ‘do’s and don’t’s’ for the wearable technology, telling users to not be a “Glasshole” – the portmanteau term used to describe Glass owners that use their device in a particularly obnoxious fashion.
Like the association of Bluetooth headsets with rude businessmen and women, Glass is in danger of being tarnished by its association with a breed of narrow-minded individual who believe that their right to record is more important than others’ right to privacy.
In a blog post spelling out its policy, Google tells users to “respect others” and “be polite and explain what Glass does” to curious members of the public. “In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass,” says the post.
The five do’s and four don’ts focus heavily on issues of permission, reminding users that “standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends.”
“The Glass camera function is no different from a cell phone so behave as you would with your phone and ask permission before taking photos or videos of others.”
This move is the latest in Google’s attempts to prepare the ground for a wider adoption of Glass. The wearable computers are rarely (if ever) seen outside of Silicon Valley, but are expected to go on general sale in the US later this year.
Glass is currently in an informal testing phase, with an Explorer program of around 8,000 individuals giving early-adopters the chance to buy the device for $1,500. Earlier this year the company also announced a range of new frames for Glass, allowing it to be fitted with prescription lens in an attempt to to normalise its look.
The launch of these do's and dont's is part of this wider scheme, but it shows one of the main challenges facing Google. Glass is now intimately linked with the public’s perception of Google, and for the company's detractors it represents the tech giant's perceived lack of respect for privacy.
Although these guidelines aim to turn Glass wearers into positive ambassadors for the product (“if [members of the public] have questions about Glass don’t get snappy”) Google might find out that they can’t always control their users. But at least if something goes wrong, you can be sure someone will be around to record it.
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